Plenary Talk: Modeling strategy based on Petri-nets @ Sathyam Hall
Aug 13 @ 9:20 am – 10:00 am

jaapJaap Heringa, Ph.D.
Director & Professor of Bioinformatics, IBIVU VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Modeling strategy based on Petri-nets

In my talk I will introduce a formal modeling strategy based on Petri-nets, which are a convenient means of modeling biological processes. I will illustrate the capabilities of Petri-nets as reasoning vehicles using two examples: Haematopoietic stem cell differentiation in mice, and vulval development in C. elegance. The first system was modeled using a Boolean implementation, and the second using a coarse-grained multi-cellular Petri-net model. Concepts such as the model state space,  attractor states, and reasoning to adapt the model to the biological reality will be discussed.

Plenary Talk: Biosensor and Single Cell Manipulation using Nanopipettes @ Amriteshwari Hall
Aug 13 @ 10:06 am – 10:49 am

NaderNader Pourmand, Ph.D.
Director, UCSC Genome Technology Center,University of California, Santa Cruz

Biosensor and Single Cell Manipulation using Nanopipettes

Approaching sub-cellular biological problems from an engineering perspective begs for the incorporation of electronic readouts. With their high sensitivity and low invasiveness, nanotechnology-based tools hold great promise for biochemical sensing and single-cell manipulation. During my talk I will discuss the incorporation of electrical measurements into nanopipette technology and present results showing the rapid and reversible response of these subcellular sensors  to different analytes such as antigens, ions and carbohydrates. In addition, I will present the development of a single-cell manipulation platform that uses a nanopipette in a scanning ion-conductive microscopy technique. We use this newly developed technology to position the nanopipette with nanoscale precision, and to inject and/or aspirate a minute amount of material to and from individual cells or organelle without comprising cell viability. Furthermore, if time permits, I will show our strategy for a new, single-cell DNA/ RNA sequencing technology that will potentially use nanopipette technology to analyze the minute amount of aspirated cellular material.

Invited Talk: Regulation of the MHC complex and HLA solubilisation by the Flavivirus, Japanese Encephalitis Virus @ Acharya Hall
Aug 13 @ 12:13 pm – 12:40 pm

ManjunathR. Manjunath, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Dept of Biochemistry, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, India


Viral encephalitis caused by Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) and West Nile Virus (WNV) is a mosquito-borne disease that is prevalent in different parts of India and other parts of South East Asia. JEV is a positive single stranded RNA virus that belongs to the Flavivirus genus of the family Flaviviridae. The genome of JEV is about 11 kb long and codes for a polyprotein which is cleaved by both host and viral encoded proteases to form 3 structural and 7 non-structural proteins. It is a neurotropic virus which infects the central nervous system (CNS) and causes death predominantly in newborn children and young adults. JEV follows a zoonotic life-cycle involving mosquitoes and vertebrate, chiefly pigs and ardeid birds, as amplifying hosts. Humans are infected when bitten by an infected mosquito and are dead end hosts. Its structural, pathological, immunological and epidemiological aspects have been well studied. After entry into the host following a mosquito bite, JEV infection leads to acute peripheral neutrophil leucocytosis in the brain and leads to elevated levels of type I interferon, macrophage-derived chemotactic factor, RANTES,TNF-α and IL-8 in the serum and cerebrospinal fluid.

Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) molecules play a very important role in adaptive immune responses. Along with various classical MHC class I molecules, other non-classical MHC class I molecules play an important role in modulating innate immune responses. Our lab has shown the activation of cytotoxic T-cells (CTLs) during JEV infection and CTLs recognize non-self peptides presented on MHC molecules and provide protection by eliminating infected cells. However, along with proinflammatory cytokines such as TNFα, they may also cause immunopathology within the JEV infected brain. Both JEV and WNV, another related flavivirus have been shown to increase MHC class I expression. Infection of human foreskin fibroblast cells (HFF) by WNV results in upregulation of HLA expression. Data from our lab has also shown that JEV infection upregulates classical as well as nonclassical (class Ib) MHC antigen expression on the surface of primary mouse brain astrocytes and mouse embryonic fibroblasts.

There are no reports that have discussed the expression of these molecules on other cells like endothelial and astrocyte that play an important role in viral invasion in humans. We have studied the expression of human classical class I molecules HLA-A, -B, -C and the non-classical HLA molecules, HLA-E as well as HLA-F in immortalized human brain microvascular endothelial cells (HBMEC), human endothelial cell line (ECV304), human glioblastoma cell line (U87MG) and human foreskin fibroblast cells (HFF). Nonclassical MHC molecules such as mouse Qa-1b and its human homologue, HLA-E have been shown to be the ligand for the inhibitory NK receptor, NKG2A/CD94 and may bridge innate and adaptive immune responses. We show that JEV infection of HBMEC and ECV 304 cells upregulates the expression of HLA-A, and –B antigens as well as HLA-E and HLA-F. Increased expression of total HLA-E upon JEV infection was also observed in other human cell lines as well like, human amniotic epithelial cells, AV-3, FL and WISH cells. Further, we show for the first time that soluble HLA-E (sHLA-E) was released from infected ECV and HBMECs. In contrast, HFF cells showed only upregulation of cell-surface HLA-E expression while U87MG, a human glioblastoma cell line neither showed any cell-surface induction nor its solubilization. This shedding of sHLA-E was found to be dependent on matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) and an important MMP, MMP-9 was upregulated during JEV infection. Treatment with IFNγ resulted in the shedding of sHLA-E from ECV as well as U87MG but not from HFF cells. Also, sHLA-E was shed upon treatment with IFNβ and both IFNβ and TNFα, when present together caused an additive increase in the shedding of sHLA-E. HLA-E is an inhibitory ligand for CD94/NKG2A receptor of Natural Killer cells. Thus, MMP mediated solubilization of HLA-E from infected endothelial cells may have important implications in JEV pathogenesis including its ability to compromise the blood brain barrier.

Manjunath (2)

Invited Talk: Applying Machine learning for Automated Identification of Patient Cohorts @ Sathyam Hall
Aug 13 @ 2:40 pm – 3:05 pm

SriSairamSrisairam Achuthan, Ph.D.
Senior Scientific Programmer, Research Informatics Division, Department of Information Sciences, City of Hope, CA, USA

Applying Machine learning for Automated Identification of Patient Cohorts

Srisairam Achuthan, Mike Chang, Ajay Shah, Joyce Niland

Patient cohorts for a clinical study are typically identified based on specific selection criteria. In most cases considerable time and effort are spent in finding the most relevant criteria that could potentially lead to a successful study. For complex diseases, this process can be more difficult and error prone since relevant features may not be easily identifiable. Additionally, the information captured in clinical notes is in non-coded text format. Our goal is to discover patterns within the coded and non-coded fields and thereby reveal complex relationships between clinical characteristics across different patients that would be difficult to accomplish manually. Towards this, we have applied machine learning techniques such as artificial neural networks and decision trees to determine patients sharing similar characteristics from available medical records. For this proof of concept study, we used coded and non-coded (i.e., clinical notes) patient data from a clinical database. Coded clinical information such as diagnoses, labs, medications and demographics recorded within the database were pooled together with non-coded information from clinical notes including, smoking status, life style (active / inactive) status derived from clinical notes. The non-coded textual information was identified and interpreted using a Natural Language Processing (NLP) tool I2E from Linguamatics.